Exploration in the Middle East can benefit from the creation of sequence stratigraphy-based, scalable, 3D models of the subsurface that are, in effect, a subsurface digital twin that extends from the plate to pore. Stratigraphic and structural organization are integrated into this model to provide a predictive geological framework for analysis of reservoir- and regional-scale geology. This framework enables testing of novel geologic concepts on the Arabian Plate.
The first step of model design is to temporally constrain data within a sequence stratigraphic framework. Publically available data were used in the entire construction of this model. This framework enables the generation of plate-wide chronostratigraphic charts and gross depositional environment (GDE) maps that help to define major changes in the regional geological context. The integration of a geodynamic plate model also provides deeper insight into these spatial and temporal changes in geology. The subsurface model also adopts the principles of Earth systems science to provide insight into the nature of paleoclimate and its potential effect on enhancing the predictive capabilities of the subsurface model. A set of plate-scale regional depth frameworks can be constructed. These, when integrated with GDE maps and other stratigraphic data, facilitate basin screening and play risking.
This plate to play methodology has yielded value through the development of new play concepts and ideas across the Arabian Plate. Exploration has historically relied on the identification of large structures. However, the majority of these are now being exploited. Underexplored stratigraphic traps, and unconventional resources are new concepts that can be better evaluated by using a digital twin of the subsurface. The integration of seismic data and sequence-stratigraphy-calibrated wireline log data can be used to identify the subcrop pattern beneath an unconformity, as well as regions where potential reservoir rocks are in juxtaposition with seals. Intrashelf basins are a key feature of the Arabian Plate. They lead to stratigraphic complexity, yet are key factors for both source rock and reservoir development. From an unconventional perspective, novel, tight plays that exist within or above prominent source rock intervals can also be established.
Value and insight into previously underexplored play concepts, such as within the Silurian Qusaiba Member and the Cretaceous Shilaif Formation of Abu Dhabi, can thus be generated from the stratigraphic attribution of geoscience data. This data can enable better-informed predictions into "white space" away from data control.